Real sign of intelligence isn’t knowledge, it’s imagination.

What does knowledge stem from?How does it exist?Did we invent it, or simply discover it? There are a number of questions but not many answers. In fact, the basic answer is just one, creativity. It is our very own creativity that has led us to learn, to read, to write, to grow, to dance, to survive, to invent, to discover and to know. And so, it is this very creativity that is responsible for the creation of all knowledge in the world as we know it and so proudly speak of.

Intelligence, however, is of a completely different nature. In a world where intelligence is measured by the shallow reflection of grades on a sheet, or by performance at one entrance exam on one day, we have definitely lost our way. It is difficult to explain what true intelligence consists of, but what we can say with utmost surety that it is not these marks. Then maybe true intelligence is measured by knowledge, by how much one really knows about a particular subject, aspect or field and by how much interest and attention he really pays to seek that knowledge. To some extent, we are right. It is more than justified to say that to be intelligent one must possess knowledge. But to be armed only with knowledge, is that enough?

This is where we are often wrong. Because for most of us, knowledge itself is enough. But in reality, it is not. It is far from enough. What truly shows us that a person is intelligent, what sets them apart is actually the things that they can do armed with all that knowledge. It is the ways they can imagine to use their knowledge to fabricate something that is of actual worth and then give that creation that exists merely in their heads, a living breathing existence in the real world. It is only creativity that can have a true impact on people simply because, the only way to make use of knowledge comes through the filter of creativity.

Thinking in the same old traditional ways never brought any of us far. It is creativity that shines through when people like James Watt decide to see if steam can actually move an engine, or when a college kid, Mark Zuckerberg, decides that the world needs to have a platform where they can connect with one another and keep in touch. A number of people knew that steam was powerful and many people know how develop a site and make platforms, but to use that knowledge in a unique way to transform our lives is creativity. In every step that mankind took and is taking to develop, we see a plethora of novel ideas coming into the picture. All of these are products of creativity and imagination and it would be foolish to assume that just because we know, we are intelligent. Because a lot of people can know, but very few can actually make use of that undoubtedly powerful knowledge.This is what sets these two kinds of people phenomenally apart. And so, our perception of what intelligence is must change and it is these few people that we should pay the respect of calling ‘intelligent’ as it is them who really make a difference.

– Japneet Kaur Saluja

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Will you ever know?

Bill Maher once said – “Suicide is man’s way of telling God, ‘You can’t fire me – I quit!”.

Even though it’s your life and your choice to live or to end it, should you put a stop to it? Do you want to be the one who quit? The one who did have the courage to commit suicide, but not enough to live to find out if the situation ever got better?
To the hopeless, suicide seems like a blissful escape from the difficulties of life. Depression, dearth of friends and kin to care and support, an endless chain of unfortunate events, sure it’s bad. But is it bad enough to stop and not stay to see where things go or could go?
Imagine your life being a day. It starts well with a breath-taking sunrise and the morning is warm and sunny. There’s light and warmth all around. The time after noon is also pleasant and beauty peaks at sunset. However, after the sun dips below the horizon and dusk comes around, you feel cold and dark. Loneliness engulfs you and bad thoughts keep playing in your head. The moon and the stars are the only things to look forward to but as the night progresses, they disappear too. And just when the night is darkest before dawn, you lose all hope and choose to stop living. Without realising that another breath-taking sunrise is just round the corner, another beautiful and warm day is waiting for you.
What that day held in store for you, will you ever know?
No. You won’t because you chose to end your life before the sunrise. Suicide may appear to be the easier, calmer way to put to end your sufferings but it also eliminates the possibility of life getting better. Plain simply because there isn’t a life left anymore.

Life, irrespective of what people think, is the most precious resource. The potential and possibilities in life are innumerable. There will always be ups and downs on this path but you will see them and enjoy the walk only if you keep treading fearlessly until you are destined to stop. If one chooses to stop before his or her destiny beckons him or her to stop, just because the path has been going downhill for a while, he or she rejects the hopeful chance that there might be an ascent. There’s always a chance, no matter how thin, of life improving. So, be willing enough to take it and continue. Even if just the thought of quitting ever comes to you in the future or you consider suicide as an option, just be hopeful for a beautiful and serene sunrise. Because once it happens, the seemingly eternal night will seem like a bump on the road and then you will know.

Ananya Bal

The Exchequer’s Headache

The Exchequer’s Headache

– An immediate need for the government to consider the sale of loss-making PSUs
WhatsApp Image 2017-06-06 at 10.34.14

It has been almost three years since the Modi government took control at the Centre. It has taken a lot of crucial decisions, which have led to direct/indirect effects on the country’s economy. But one thing that the Modi government hasn’t been able to tackle are the loss-making PSUs. There have been aggressive planning and talks regarding strategic disinvestment in these loss-making PSUs, but none of them have been implemented so far. Those plans which have been implemented, have not met the current fiscal targets. PSUs continue to function in their merry way despite attempts by successive central governments. At least 22 PSUs in India are considered to be a burden on the Indian Exchequer.

The Public-Sector Units (PSUs) are a legacy of the socialist era. However cumbersome and loss-making they might be, they always have been difficult to chuck-off. No government has been able to liberate India from them. Even the economic reforms of 1991 couldn’t get rid of them. However big the strategic disinvestment plans might be, they aren’t quite enough to take on the bloated white-elephants like Air India, BSNL, MTNL etc. They continue to enjoy funding from the Indian Exchequer while they sit atop huge debt blocks, often amounting to thousands of crores. No government has been able to strategically address these chronically sick public sector units.

Successive governments have been constantly trying to strategically disinvest in these PSUs. While the BJP-led government seems keen on disinvesting in the PSUs and the state-owned units, it hasn’t made much of a headway. The Vajpayee government had also tried on the same lines but had met with little success. During its second term, the UPA-government tried to pursue more aggressive disinvestment but within a few years, the policy paralysis set-in and the drive lost the initial momentum. Many experts believe that the Modi-government should adopt a medium-term plan based on performance, size and sector instead of ad-hoc expediency based on yearly targets.According to the official data available with the NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India, for the un-initiated), the top three loss-making PSUs of the last fiscal year were Steel Authority of India (SAIL), Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Air India. These three accounted for almost 41% of the total losses. Clearly, the government’s reluctance to strategically disinvest in these PSUs continues to cost it dearly.

According to the official data available with the NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India, for the un-initiated), the top three loss-making PSUs of the last fiscal year were Steel Authority of India (SAIL), Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Air India. These three accounted for almost 41% of the total losses. Clearly, the government’s reluctance to strategically disinvest in these PSUs continues to cost it dearly.

Now let us get some perspective on how grave the problem is. Let us take the case of Air India. The fourth largest domestic airline in India in terms of passengers carried, it had a market share of 13% as on March 2017. Lately, even though there were reports of Air India reporting operational profits of over Rs. 100 crore, it sits atop an accumulated debt of over Rs. 55,000 crores. Remember, operational profits do not signal a turnaround for the airline. The profits were accrued largely on account of benign fuel prices last fiscal year. With the introduction of private players in the aviation sector, Air India doesn’t have the same stature as it used to have 50 years ago. It has found itself woefully inadequate to compete with the increasing onslaught of private airlines. At the moment, the financial position of the Maharajah is precarious, and for the same reason, NITI Aayog has included Air India in a list of 22 PSUs where revival will have to happen before any value can be realized through disinvestment.

Another example we have on our hands is the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). It was once the largest provider of fixed telephony and broadband services with more than 60% market share. But its earnings have taken a hit in the recent years due to the intense competition in the telecommunications sector. Simply put, BSNL isn’t able to compete in its respective industry. The reasons are many, but the blame can be put upon bureaucratic interference and sloth, wrong decisions on expansion etc. To put the situation into another perspective, BSNL incurred over Rs. 8,234 crore in losses in the last year. That translates into Rs. 22 crore net loss every day.

Whichever one looks at it, the Indian government needs to take a firm stand against these loss-making PSUs. Simply writing-off bad debts is surely not the ideal solution to this mammoth problem. These companies have long become incompetent and need to be dealt with a heavy hand. These companies have basically become a parking lot for the party members to be employed at after coming to power or are treated as vehicles to dole out contracts to cronies.

The NDA government must realize that PSUs are sinking deeper and deeper into losses and must do away with these socialist-era relics. Why is the government still investing in such sectors where the private companies have long overtaken typical bureaucratic inefficiency? Simply focusing on temporary improvements in PSUs or offering incentives for better performance will not cut it anymore. The private companies also enforce a work culture which embodies better efficiency than what the sarkari babus bring to the table in PSUs.

 

-Rohitanshu Kar

 

“Why try so hard to fit in when you are born to stand out!”

“Why try so hard to fit in when you are born to stand out?”
-Oliver JamesMJS Tim Brinton Illustration
People around the world face violence and inequality—and sometimes torture, even
execution—because of who they love, how they look, or who they are. Sexual orientation
and gender identity is integral aspects of ourselves; they are our personal preferences and should never lead to discrimination or abuse. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, also referred to as ‘Gay Community’ is a community of and for the homosexual, bisexual and Trans-people. Such communities celebrate pride, diversity, individuality and sexuality. But it is deeply disheartening to say the least, that humanity is now hidden behind the screams of hatred and disapproval from certain communities. The LGBT community is one such community which is facing the wrath of the larger section of the society, yet somehow, it is coming forward to prove itself and is not afraid to fight for their rights. Laws affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people vary greatly by country or territory—everything from legal recognition of same-sex marriage or homosexual activity, to the death penalty as punishment for same-sex romantic/sexual activity or identity. By what name should we call the group of people that hate or fear LGBT community and have mentally decided to deprive them of their rights and equality? Are they pejoratives or homophobic? They are the group of people who are hostile towards the gay community and have strong anti-gay views. Being unique and not falling under the conventional larger section of the society has its own pros and cons.

Living in a society where doing something unconventional is not easily accepted, being
someone who is not a part of the larger section of the society and openly accepting it is a
great thing. However, the LGBT communities are not recognised enough to give them all the rights similar to those of the heterosexuals. In some countries like India, gay marriages and homosexual activity are criminalised. India is a Hindu society without a tradition of homophobia and it is a society with a deep patriarchal system which rejects anything that interrupts with the usual male-female order. Homosexual activity, same-sex marriage or LGBT employments are still illegal in India, Pakistan and other countries of southern and central Asia. Loving someone and marrying a person of the same gender is considered a crime.

In contrast to this, the countries of the West have made efforts to secure rights for
transgender and homosexual people. States like Washington DC outlaw discrimination
based on sexual orientation, gender identity and have adopted hate crime laws based on
sexual orientation.

Transgenders and trans issues have been getting a lot of mainstream media attention lately.While Transgenders are now recognised as the third gender and are allowed to vote yet there are a lot of struggles they face on a daily basis. In the recent outcry about having neutral restrooms, for transgenders who don’t fit neatly into the gender binary, public restrooms are a major source of anxiety and a place where they are most likely to be questioned. Many transgenders opt out of life thinking they do not fit in. They are catcalled and talked about in major public places like schools, libraries, airports and even washrooms.

On the other hand, homosexuals are still afraid to come out in limelight and live a life of
their choice without any threats. The real question is that is it right to stop someone
from loving someone else just because they are of the same gender? Can two people in love not marry without any opposition and life threats from the society?
There is a need to break this stigma of discrimination in our society.We should change our perceptions and not treat them as different individuals. They are as many humans as
we are. Gay rights cannot be won in courtrooms but in hearts and minds of people.

-Meghana Gudivada & Revanti Mukherjee